From Community Action to Community Policing: The Ford Foundation and the Urban Crisis, 1960-1975

By Sam Collings-Wells On July 16, 1970, McGeorge Bundy circulated a letter to various US Senators informing them of the Ford Foundation’s “major new program to help strengthen and modernize the exercise of police function in urban areas.”[i] He was referring to the establishment of the Police Foundation, an independent organization which was allocated an […]

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Rethinking Partisanship in the Postwar United States

By Charlotte Rosen In 2016, two Black Lives Matter activists made headlines when they confronted Hillary Clinton at a private fundraiser in Charleston, South Carolina. Holding a sign that contained the words “We have to bring them to heel,” Ashley Williams called on Clinton to “apologize to Black people for mass incarceration.” The sign referenced […]

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Reflections on Disciplining the City

By Matt Guariglia  This year the New York City Police Department announced that it would be integrating a new fleet of drones into its policing procedure for large events. In 2018, the NYPD also announced that it was experimenting with a lasso that would subdue citizens during mental health crises. Even as policing becomes more […]

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Policing Unpolicable Space: The Mulberry Bend

By Matthew Guariglia  During the Progressive Era, there were parts of New York City that police understood as being immune to the exertions of state power. These areas could be rendered illegible and uncontrollable for a number of reasons. In some instances, as I have discussed on The Metropole before, the foreignness of immigrant populations, […]

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Policing the White City

Our third and final entry in The Metropole/Urban History Association Graduate Student Blogging Contest explores the intersection of law enforcement, imperialism, and American racial hierarchies through the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago intended to reflect the high point of U.S. and white Western civilization and, according to reports […]

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Preserving Law and Order: The Fight for Los Angeles’ Parker Center

By Meredith Drake Reitan, MPL, PhD On February 7, 2017, the Los Angeles City Council ruled against colleagues on the Cultural Heritage Commission. After a lengthy and emotional public comment period, the Council decided not to designate Parker Center, the longtime headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department, a local historic monument. The following month, […]

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Documenting Lynching and its Influence: The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Clinic at Northeastern University is Doing Just That

In his 2003 work, The Contradiction of American Capital Punishment, University of California law professor Franklin E. Zimring suggested that a correlation existed between lynchings and capital punishment; states with more of the former participated at higher rates in the latter. Zimring’s statistics, Elaine Cassel argued, “should give pause to anyone who believes that the […]

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The South Isn’t Exceptional, the People Are: New Orleans and Prisoner Rights Activism

New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana more generally, are often held up as the worst examples of policing and criminal justice. It’s where the Angola 3 were incarcerated, alongside Zulu Whitmore, as political prisoners. It’s where Amnesty International has focused much of its anti-carceral state activism. Angola often gets held up as “a modern […]

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